Sportshour presents a special show from Phoenix, Arizona in the USA, the location of this year’s Super Bowl, one of the worlds most-watched annual sporting events. We look at the Super Bowl itself, plus Arizona as a border state, the Native American view, Tent City prison, the home of Muhammad Ali, and the Phoenix Open.
Super Bowl XLIX (49) will see a competitive contest on the field between the current champions Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, but its backdrop, the state of Arizona, is a microcosm of some of the biggest issues in American society.
Arizona is one of only four states that border Mexico. It has attempted to bring in the toughest immigration laws in America which has caused tension in the sizeable Mexican community. President Obama recently decided to offer an immigration amnesty and the issue is likely to be at the heart of the presidential election in 2016. We speak to Horacio Llamas, the first Mexican NBA player who was on the Phoenix Suns roster.
As well as a large Mexican community, Phoenix is home to the third-largest Native American community. We head to the AK-Chin reserve to find out how they protect their ancient culture in modern America, and how they support the Super Bowl whilst challenging the use of symbols and words in American football, like the Washington Redskins.
Phoenix is also home to a prison with a difference. We take a tour of Tent City prison, the only open-air facility in America. Temperatures inside the tents have been clocked as high as 145 degrees and the facility has been criticised by Amnesty international. Our tour guide is the equally controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man behind the idea. Mainly housing people convicted of driving under the influence, the prison was once home to NBA legend Charles Barkley, and professional sports teams often tour the facility when playing in Phoenix. So does Tent City deter people from driving under the influence?
Just up the road from Phoenix in Scottsdale. It is home to one of the worlds greatest sportsmen, Muhammad Ali. We visit the boxing gym closest to his home – a place he still visits – to soak up the atmosphere. We speak to those who know Ali and those inspired by him, including Olympic Champions and World titleholders.
Super Bowl and Golf
And it’s not just the Super Bowl taking place in Phoenix this week. It also hosts one of golfs biggest tournaments; we head out onto the 16th tee at the Phoenix Open, the worlds only stadium golf hole, as stands for spectators are erected around it.